« PreviousContinue »
English chief secretary, have been nominally and ostensively at the head of the political government; but the real power and the whole of the internal legislation and economy of the country have been in the hands of the Irish themselves. The Houses of Lords and Commons, the Privy Council, the Judges, the Magistracy, the Lawyers, the parochial Clergy,-in short, all the governing, all the influencing classes, have been, almost without exception, Irish. Has the accidental presence—as Lords-Lieutenant or Secretariesof the Dukes of Ormond, Devonshire, and Dorset,--of Lords Townsend, Chesterfield, Carteret, Halifax and Cornwallis,-of Mr. Addison, Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Windham, or Mr. Elliot,* men all eminent, and some of them immortal for their genius, their talents, their wisdom and their virtues; has the accidental presence, we ask, of one or two of these illustrious persons at the council-table in Dublin, so infected and poisoned the very air of Ireland as to reduce the happy, high-minded, and admirable Irish to the state of vice and misery in which Mr. Parnell is pleased to place them?
One word more upon this topic.—England conquered Ireland, not at once, not completely, but in a lingering war of many melancholy ages, accompanied and followed by mutual injuries, and mutual hatred; but whatever misfortunes arose (and many did no doubt arise) out of the English invasion, it cannot be, on the other hand, denied, that all the improvements of Ireland, whether in forms or in essentials, have been imported from England—the blessed light of the reformation, the happy principles of the revolution, the cheering arts of civilization, every thing in religion and politics, in agriculture and manners, every thing valuable, however high or low, from the parliament and the pulpit down to the plough and the spinning-wheel, are the produce of the English connexion. Nay, to descend to minuter objects, even Mr. Parnell himself, with all his patriotism, is a boon, and that of no very old date, from England to Ireland.
Of the vigour and anxiety of this patriotism, our readers could have no conception, if Mr. Parnell had not favoured them with the following description of the melancholy state to which he is reduced for the good of his country.
• Like the nightingale that is said to lean its breast against a thorn, that sleep may not interrupt its song, this aching pity for poor Ireland has kept the author constantly thinking, studying, writing, talking, in hopes that by exertion or good fortune he might be the means of bettering her condition. One claim at least to attention he may be allowed, which is having minutely, carefully, and unremittingly studied the subject.
We have only selected a few from the long list of able and worthy men, now no more, who have been, since the revolution, Lords-Lieutenant and Secretaries in Ireland.
'To the governing powers he of course has applied, but not very often, as every little chance of success with them would be lost by importunity. But success, indeed, he never had to boast of.'— Introduction, pp. xii. xiii.
Before we devote to the execration of mankind such men as Lord Colchester, the Duke of Wellington and Mr. Peel, for not having in their respective administrations taken the advice of this Irish nightingale, (by the way, Mr. Parnell is the only nightingale that lias ever been heard in Ireland,) let us consider a little what are the remedies which he proposes.-For evils so extended, for vices so inveterate, it might be expected that this senatorial songster would propose some wide and powerful charm which should assuage all the bad passions, and excite and invigorate all the nobler and more virtuous feelings of the human heart. In tracing upon paper his schemes of reformation he has no obstacles, no difficulties, no prejudices to contend with ;-in a political romance a legislator may do what he pleases and as he pleases, and it is therefore not too much to look to Mr. Parnell's favourite Maurice for such acquirements and attributes as fit him for the example and prototype of a regenerated peasantry. Let us see
The first, and (if we may judge by the stress laid upon it) the most important is, that the day-labourers in Ireland should, instead of potatoes and milk, eat wheaten bread and cold meat! Our readers will think that we are, what is vulgarly called, quizzing them- -we protest we are not.—Mr. Parnell makes and re-makes this proposition as most important towards beitering the condi
' tion of poor Ireland, and not on the mere grounds that cold meat is the more nourishing food, but that it is the cheapest, and would save the labourer's family a world of time and pains.
A poor girl who can earn two-pence a-day is diverted, he says, from her work in carrying potatoes to the workman in the field; this waste of time would be prevented by the labourer's carrying a sandwich in his pocket!
• Maurice works task-work, and as he is so well fed, he says he is able to work better than many grown up men. Indeed, he says eating meat is the cheapest and best, for besides being able to earn so much more, he can take his cold meat and bread with him, and look for work five miles off; but if he ate potatoes, I should be forced to carry them twice a day through all weathers, which would oblige him to work only near home; besides, I (Una) should lose the most of what I earn by spinning, and wear ont my shoes and clothes; have to pay for medicines two or three times a year, from colds; and what he thinks worst of, be in company with all the labourers during their meals, without mentioning the idle tattered girls who carry them their meals; and any how he cannot endure that I should leave the house unless he is with me. Now ни 3
he takes his cold meat and bread with him, and asks no more till he comes home to supper.'— pp. 29, 30. This is a happy instance of Mr. Parnell's good sense.
Because when he happens to make a hasty repast, it generally consists of bread and cold meut, these articles become in his mind associated with the idea of frugal fare;— bread and cold meat,always at hand, -got in a moment,-without trouble or expense!' In the fervour of his romance he quite forgets that in order to make bread, wheat must be ground to four, kneeded into dough, fermented with yeast, and baked in an oven; he forgets too that cold meat must have been once hot, and that the market, the butcher, the spit, the pot, the fuel, and all the unobserved but essential details of cookery must take up at least as much time and expense as boiling a pot of potatoes and carrying them to the reaper in the field. Would to God that the food of the Irish peasantry could be improved! but surely none but a visionary would think of changing it altogether--and, above all, changing it for such reasons of economy as have occurred to Mr. Parnell !
Mr. Parnell's next improvement is to introduce the shortbandled spade, and, with admirable consistency, the long-handled scythe.
"The father walked stiff, and had a great stoop from using their shorthandled spade and shovel.–After he returned from his day's work, he used to take a turn at his own garden, and in three hours in the evening, did more and better work, than an Irish labourer would do in a whole day. It was all from the short handled spade: their spade is all spade, and will lift twice as much as our broadest shovel ; our fac is all handle, it lifts but little, and half of that falls off, as we do not lift with our arms, but by sticking one knee under the long-handled fac, a thing which no Englishman would comprehend. When I return, I will make my fortune by cutting three feet off the handle of my fac.'-p. 70, 71.
Though I made twice the efforts of my companions, I could but just keep up with them; and while they cut close, and even without distressing themselves, my mowing, with all my exertions, was execrable; being used to our straight handled scythes, I stooped too low, and did not understand the set of mine; so that I was the derision of the whole field. At last one of them, better natured than the rest, said, “ Lord love thee, lad, thou wilt kill thyself, and break thy back at this fashion ; what queer sort of a tool hast thou been used to cut with ?” So, desiring ine to stand more upright, and setting my scythe not quite so flat, I found that I could mow with much more ease than ever I had done before, and before I left the field, they all pronounced that I promised well.'--p. 59. This good gentleman appears to know so little about the true value of his own remedies that he proposes them with contradictory re
commendations; one is good because it makes the man stoop, the other is also good because it does not. Again we say, that the change may be desirable, but not assuredly for the reasons assigned by Mr. Parnell.
Few things seem to strike this great patriot as being so important in an Irish labourer as a good English accent; but much and often as he insists upon this amendment, he does not inform us how it is to be effected. We anxiously request him to remedy this omission in a second edition: such a recipe might be useful not to
poor Ireland' alone, but to all Scotland, and certain parts of England itself, which at present suffer under the grievous infirmity of a provincial accent.
It must be obvious that it would also be a great blessing to Ireland, hardly inferior perhaps to mending the accent of the peasantry, if discontent and disaffection, old prejudices and rankling feuds could be eradicated, and that a general respect for and acqui. escence in the present state of laws, constitution and property, could be generally diffused :—this is a tune to which the political nightingale might delight to sing; and accordingly Mr. Parnell does not wholly omit it; but the mode he takes of inculcating these conciliatory doctrines is quite as surprising as an Irish labourer's being created a grandee of Spain—he takes every opportunity of launching, in an Irish spirit of conciliation, the most sarcastic and indignant remarks against the government and the gentry; he judiciously reminds all the peasants that, whether their names be O'Toole, or O'Neale, or O'Sullivan, they are descended from a line of kings, and (though despoiled and degraded) the real owners of the soil, and (if every man had his due) the just inheritors of the wealth and power of the country. He further takes great pains to assure us and them of their unanimity and their strength and their disaffection. He tells us plainly that one of his heroes, • James Hi Sullivan, with great reason to be contented, nourished the keenest regret for his family honours and the bitterest rancour against his spoliators, the English,' (of whom Mr. Parnell is one ;) and he further informs us that there is not one single Irish Roman catholic who is perfectly free from the same festering discontent.'
İs this indeed so, Mr. Parnell? Is all that we have heard of the loyalty and good dispositions of the Irish Catholics utterly false ? Do they all, without exception, nourish the bitterest rancour against the present state of things ? Are catholic emancipation and religious toleration mere pretences ? and is a revolution in rank and property the real object of the catholic claims? The best that we can do for Mr. Parnell is to hope that he does not quite know what he is saying—he is a child playing with fire-arms;
an innocent who, by way of giving light to his neighbours, sticks his farthing candle into a barrel of gunpowder.
The judicious and consolatory topics which Mr. Parnell produces to amend the morals, better the condition, and raise the character of his countrymen, are exactly the same as those with which his hero Hi Sullivan awakened the feelings of the mob that attacked Mr. Dale's house, and we therefore are not greatly surprized that the affair ended in burning Mr. Dale and all his family in their beds; and we are a little afraid that, if such principles were to be propagated with any success, Mr. Parnell's own house would in no long period of them share the fate of Mr. Dale's.
It may appear incredible, that any man should publish a book at once so mischievous and absurd, and venture to usher it in by a preface which talks political economy ex cathedra, and sneers at Adam Sinith, and all the puny statesmen who have governed Ireland from the earliest to the present time;- but there is a circumstance which mitigates our surprize: the attention of parliament was, during the last session, solicited to two bills, introduced with sufficient pomp, for the alleviation of some of those tremendous evils under which Ireland is represented as labouring—the one was a bill for the education of children employed in cotton factories, the other for regulating the office of coroner in Ireland! their chief enactments were some paltry details, either impracticable or contemptible. These bills were for a short time a bye-word amongst those who had looked at them; and they sank under the weight of their own inconsistencies before they had reached any debateable stage:--they were from the same pen and in the same spirit as the Priest of Rahery:'-Requiescant in pace!
Art. IX.-1. Prospectus and Specimen of an intended National Work, by William and Robert Whistlecraft, of Stowmarket
, Suffolk, Harness and Collar Makers, intended to comprize the most interesting particulars relating to King Arthur and his
Round Table - London, 1818. 2. The Court of Beasts, freely translated from the Animali Par
lanti of Giambattista Casti, a Poem, in seven Cantos. By
William Stewart Rose. London. 1819. GIAN IAMBATTISTA Casti published his Animali Parlanti in
1802: Mr. Rose has therefore taken the most recent narrative poem of the Italians as his text-book. On the other hand, the unknown poet who comes forward disguised in the working jacket of the Whistlecrafts, has imitated the earliest of the Italian romantic poems, the Morgante Maggiore, which was written by Pulci about the year 1470. If these two writers wished to em